Toyota Wins Shortened Six Hours of Silverstone

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The #8 Toyota of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sebastien Buemi have won a shortened Six Hours of Silverstone as both Audis failed to finish.

The race started with the #7 Toyota of Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Stéphane Sarrazin leading the pack at the start from the #1 Audi of defending champions Loïc Duval and Tom Kristensen, who are this season are joined by Lucas di Grassi. The Brazilian with di Grassi getting passed the #7 at Vale, but was unable to make his move on Wurz stick, costing the Audi man time at Abbey, slipping down to fourth behind both Toyotas and the sister Audi R18 e-tron quattro.

That then led to the #2 Audi of André Lotterer challenging Sébastien Buemi in the No.8 for second whilst Wurz pulled out a 2.7 second lead on the pair. That battle then went into Vale, with Lotterer going pass Buemi at Vale before the Toyota got overtaken by di Grassi at Village.

Meanwhile in LMGTE Pro, Nick Tandy in the #91 Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSR and Frédéric Makowiecki in the sister No.92 were up front battling to get pass the class leading Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni whilst also contending with the LMP1 cars lapping them. That battle was then solved at The Loop, with first Tandy passing Bruni at Brooklands, with Makowiecki following through at Copse.

Back at the front, however, the #20 Porsche of Timo Bernhard was catching up with Buemi to try and breach the top four; however a move was yet to materialize. Right up the front, though, Lotterer in the No.2 was passing Wurz in the No.7 at Club whilst also lapping a GTE Am Aston Martin to take the race lead.

In LMP2 things weren’t going well for the #27 SMP Racing Oreca, with the Nissan-powered car slowing as the rain started to fall, stopping at the pit entry. However, with the rain falling Audi’s luck also changed, with di Grassi losing the rear end of the No.1 Audi spinning it into the barriers at Woodcote.

That off also spelled the end of the race for the #1, with the car suffering monocoque damage.

Shortly afterwards, the sister #2 Audi, which had just gone down one lap, went off at Stowe, but, unlike di Grassi, didn’t hit the barriers enabling Lotterer to make it back to the pits.

Back in GTE Pro, meanwhile, Toni Vilander, who had now taken over from Bruni in the No.51 Ferrari, had worked his way back up to the back of Tandy, passing the Briton before working his way towards the back of Makowiecki’s 911.

Disaster then hit the #14 Porsche, with Neel Jani bringing the car in for an unscheduled stop after crawling around the track due to a hydraulic issue, but for the No.20 things were more hopeful, with Bernhard passing Wurz in a thrilling move into Brooklands.

Driver changes then started to happen in LMP1, with Kazuki Nakajima taking over the No.7 after a small spin on track for Wurz, but the Japanese driver then went off himself, this time with the No.2 Audi at Becketts. With rain starting to now fall heavily on parts of the track, Nicolas Lapierre climbed aboard the #8 Toyota TS040, bringing the cars lead down to only 18 seconds.

Back down in GTE Am the pro drivers got locked in battle, with Sam Bird in the #81 AF Corse Ferrari and Ben Collins in the #52 RAM Racing Ferrari duelling around the track for the class lead, with Bird eventually winning the duel with a move into Brooklands.

Drama then came in the next round of stops for GTE Am when the #61 AF Corse 458 Italia suffering a flash fire, resulting in the car dropping to last whilst repairs took place.

Audi’s self destruction then entered into its final phrase when Benoît Tréluyer went off at Copse, ripping off the front end and, once again, damaging the monocoque on the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro, sending it into retirement as well as causing the Safety Car.

When the race restarted a battle for the lead sparked up in not only LMP2, but LMGTE Am as well. In LMP2, the KCMG Oreca of Matt Howson was in a battle with Julian Canal in the G-Drive Morgan, whilst in GTE Am both the Aston Martins of Christoffer Nygaard in the #99 and David Heinemeier Hansson in the #95 battled it out for the class lead. The battle in LMP2, though, was then cut short when the KCMG Oreca got hit with a 10 second stop-and-go penalty for pitlane speeding.

Heavy rain then one again started to hit the circuit, with Mark Webber in the #20 Porsche deciding to tough it at and stay on slicks, while the #7 pitted for grooved wets, although Webber didn’t stay out for long with the Australian pitting soon later for full wets.

Heading into the final hour there was four LMP1 cars remaining despite the appalling weather conditions – the #8 and #7 Toyotas in 1-2, the #20 Porsche and the #12 Rebellion Lola on its final outing in the WEC.

But that last hour gave spectators no racing, as the Safety Car was deployed due to adverse weather, with Race Director Eduardo Freitas eventually throwing the red flag, ending the race 30 minutes early.

So at the end of five and a half hours, the #8 Toyota won the race from the #7, with the No.20 in third. In LMP1-L, the No.12 Rebellion won the class, mainly due to the fact they were the only finishers.

In LMP2 only three of the four cars finished, with the G-Drive Morgan of Roman Rusinov, Olivier Pla and Julian Canal winning from the #47 KCMG Oreca of Matt Howson, Richard Bradley and Tsugio Matsuda, with the #27 SMP Racing Oreca P3 with Sergey Zlobin, Nicolas Minassian and Maurizio Mediani driving. Not finishing was the other SMP Oreca, the #37, of Kirill Ladygin, Viktor Shaitar and Anton Ladygin.

In LMGTE Pro, it was a Porsche Team Manthey 1-2, with the #92 of Marco Holzer, Fréd Makowiecki and Richard Lietz finishing ahead of the #91 of Patrick Pilet, Jörg Bergmeister and Nick Tandy.

And finally in LMGTE Am it was an Aston Martin 1-2, with the #95 finishing ahead of the #98 in the hands of Kristian Poulsen, David Heinemeir Hansson and Nicki Thiim. In third was the #81 AF Corse Ferrari of Stephen Wyatt, Michele Rugolo and Sam Bird.

The next round of the FIA WEC is the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 3.

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